Cafe 209

Meat-and-Three | Soul Food
excellent
Worth a detour
Save

Broad Street, the main drag through downtown Augusta, is a veritable restaurant row: new, cutting-edge eateries as well as old-school favorites. Cafe 209, which used to be located nearer the Riverfront, is a Broad Street destination unaffected by trends. Located just up the block from the raffish Sports Center bar and Luigi’s vintage Italian restaurant, this happy lunchroom offers comforting meat-and-3 fare, soul-food style.

I had driven past it many times and never even noticed its existence in an old brick building with only a small sign hung out front. But when infallible tipster Keith McLendon (“Chickenplucker”) suggested we meet here for lunch (the only meal served), I was on my way. Keith said he had previously enjoyed pork chops and his wife very much liked the beef liver (I agree: the liver, smothered with onions and gravy, is short-order heaven).

Fried chicken is the main attraction. I can’t believe how extraordinarily juicy the dark-meat thigh is; and its crisp, well-seasoned veil of crust quite literally melts in the mouth. In a region where good fried chicken is no surprise, Cafe 209’s is surprisingly good.

One can order this chicken by the piece, so it is possible to have just a piece or two along with a whole lot of 209’s excellent side dishes. The list of nearly two dozen includes Thursday-only broccoli casserole and cornbread dressing, pungent turnip greens, supersweet fried corn, piquant rutabagas, and Friday-only cole slaw and potato salad (to accompany catfish or flounder). Broccoli casserole is luxury incarnate — really more a cheese and rice casserole with just enough broccoli mixed in for it to qualify as a vegetable. Cornbread dressing, smothered with gravy and accompanied by cranberry sauce, could almost be a meal unto itself … although I can’t imagine a better companion for pork chops or Wednesday-only meat loaf.

It’s all good, the chicken even better than that; however dessert is a let-down: gummy peach cobbler, banana pudding with synthetic flavor.

Beyond estimable food, lunching at Cafe 209 is a heartening experience. Customers are greeted at the door by a congenial hostess and taken care of by a diligent waitstaff. In my book, it is nutrition for the soul to eat these old-fashioned square meals alongside local folks (most of whom appear to be regulars) in a sturdy brick building on Augusta’s grand old Broad Street.

What to Eat
Cafe 209, Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken
Must-Try
Succulent chicken thigh is enveloped by melt-in-the-mouth crust.
Cafe 209, Rutabagas
Rutabagas
Must-Try
Well-cooked chunks of spicy rutabaga deliver root-vegetable satisfaction.
Cafe 209, Broccoli Casserole
Broccoli Casserole
Must-Try
Broccoli casserole, a Thursday-only specialty, is all about luxurious cheese and rice and just a little about its namesake.
Cafe 209, Cornbread Dressing
Cornbread Dressing
Must-Try
Smothered with gravy, cornbread dressing is a great side for just about any meat.
Cafe 209, Fried Corn
Fried Corn
Must-Try
Fried corn is as sweet as dessert pudding
Cafe 209, Beef Liver
Beef Liver
Must-Try
Liver lovers will exult in this mineral-charged slice smothered in gravy & onions.
Cafe 209, Okra & Tomatoes
Okra & Tomatoes
Must-Try
From southern gardens: okra & tomatoes
Cafe 209, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
I don't know where the banana pudding comes from, but its ersatz taste and dense texture make me wish it would go back.
Cafe 209, Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler
Gummy-textured peach cobbler is more sweet than peachy.
Cafe 209, Lemonade
Lemonade
Lemonade is freshly squeezed.
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No

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